Tips on Holiday Gift Giving in the Workplace

When it comes to holiday gift giving in the workplace, it’s more than the thought that counts. There are numerous issues that should be considered during the selection and exchange of year-end gifts in a work environment.

Holiday gifts given by employers:

The most common holiday gifts are typically generic gift cards. Other frequently chosen options include cash, food, logo items and gift baskets. If supervisors or managers choose to give gifts to their employees, it’s best that they are given to everyone versus only certain individuals to prevent perceptions of favoritism or unequal treatment.

Holiday gifts between co-workers and/or bosses

Some companies opt to institute a gift-giving policy in the hopes of reducing potentially uncomfortable situation, while others embrace the gift-giving as a means of showing appreciation for one another. Be sure you know your company’s policy on gift giving.

Also, take into consideration your company’s culture. The more relaxed the culture, the greater latitude you have in gift choices.

Regardless, there is some general gift-giving etiquette when it comes to workplace gifting.

  • Gift-giving should always be voluntary, without any feelings of pressure of obligation.

  • Keep gift-giving relatively inexpensive, simple, and modest.

  • Gift-giving should be workplace-appropriate. Items such as tasteful and professional gifts, cards, lunch, or a donation to a charity on behalf of an individual are all appropriate ways to show appreciation. Avoid alcohol, gifts with political, religious or sexual messages and hygiene-related items. In some cases, inappropriate gifts can be grounds for termination.

  • Group gifts are generally an acceptable way of thanking a supervisor/manager versus an individual gift.

  • Give gifts to show appreciation and thanks, not to make a statement.

What are some guidelines for employers who would like to institute company gift-giving policies?

  • Structure the program so it is run by employees, not the company.

  • Set a cost limit.

  • Inform employees that if they choose to spend above the dollar limit, the gift should be exchanged outside of work.

  • Instruct employees that gifts must be appropriate for the workplace.

  • Inform employees that participation is completely optional.

Gift giving can be a fun part of the holiday season. However, it is important to understand the rules and guidelines that govern gift exchange when it happens at work.

Sources:

  • ERC
  • Quintessential Careers
  • HR Hero
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